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Books and Documents

Islamic Culture

Peer, who I have a fleeting memory of in rediff.com’s office, strokes the script with unflinching scenes of terror and tension that afflicted the population of Kashmir, caught in the crossfire between militants and army. I haven’t read his acclaimed Curfewed Night but I do recall this heart-breaking diary, which offers a disturbing glimpse of the horror he encountered personally. He even appears in a brief cameo doing what may seem amusing at first but is mostly a painful reminder of scars left on a tortured psyche.......

 

The liberal democratic system allowing individual freedom of speech, freedom of expression etc. is fine, but there must be limits to such freedom, particularly when there is an undeniable tendency to take advantage of it. If Sharia Law is attempted to be introduced surreptitiously under the guise of religious freedom, then such attempts should be considered to be thwarted; otherwise bigger problems may arise in future which may threaten the very fabric of the society.....

 

Ibn-e-Safi, the Man:  Stranger Than Fiction
Nadeem F. Paracha

I don’t anymore though, outgrowing the fantastic sounding cities and countries full of quirky spies, strange gadgets and racy plots that Safi offered in his novels, making him one of Pakistan’s most popular and best-selling Urdu novelists of all time.....

 

Shahid Sajjad:  A Study in Bronze
Irfan Husain

It is unsurprising that art has little place in a society as racked by violence and as warped by greed as Pakistan is today. Artists, too, are marginal figures unless they are good at self-promotion. And Shahid Sajjad was the very antithesis of a pushy person blowing his own trumpet: modest to the point of becoming a recluse in his last few years, he let his work speak for itself.....

 

Mehdi Hasan may not be with us, but his repertoire will continue to enthrall music lovers in all times to come……

 

12 Songs from Pakistan’s Mountains, Deserts, Shrines and Streets
Nadeem F. Paracha

Interestingly, though both, the 20th century secular Pakhtun nationalists, as well as the more religious and conservative expressions of Pakhtun identity, celebrated the Pakhtun culture’s militaristic tenor, Pakhtun folk music is remarkably romantic and poetic in nature, with the singers mostly voicing sagas of longing for their beloveds (who are in some foreign land), or for the mountains and rivers of the Pakhtun lands that the singer misses.....

 

He had come from Bombay where he had been leading a hard but fruitful life for twelve years. In the preface to his collection of short stories titled Yazeed, Manto mentioned that he considered Bombay his Doosra Watan – after Amritsar where he spent his boyhood and early youth – and called himself Chalta-Phirta Bambai. “Wherever I stay, I’ll make my own world.”....

 

Women, Urdu and Bollywood
Aijaz Zaka Syed

It’s not possible to disagree with the argument that if Indian Muslims are at the bottom of the heap in many ways, their women are at the bottom of this bottom. I could understand why my friend was appalled though. The expression employed was crude even if candid.  The Progressive Writers’ Movement, to which Kaifi belonged, tended to use such strong language to shock and awaken the sleepy social conscience…..

 

Pahela Baishakh: Beyond Kurtas and Saris
Afsan Chowdhury

Baishakhi is a festival of harvesting and commercial year launching. It has been in Bengal and in many parts of India since the time of Akbar the Mughal during whose rule the revenue system was reorganised. It’s the time of renewal, promises and inclusion of all in a socio-economic system. It’s therefore a festival without religious overtones….

 

It could be argued that these fine Islamic arts are more advantaged nowadays in Turkey, blossoming along with the recent spiritual revival in the country. Anyone visiting or living in Turkey nowadays is certain to encounter the different genres of these fine arts of Islam. This is clear from many examples of Turkish architecture in the form of mosques and former palaces, great poetry….

 

Sufi Music Makes Comeback in Iraq
Amal Sakr

When reading or hearing about Sufi music, one immediately imagines a “spiritual session” during which Mouwashshas (a form of classical Arabic poem) are sung, as Sufi music in Iraq is linked to the Kasnazani order — known for their performances involving “whirling dervishes” — in addition to the Qadiri order. During their evening performances and religious occasions, Sufis usually recite poems and beat drums to create rhythm. ....

 

Shah Abdul Latif:  The Voice of Love
Sadia Dehlvi

The young poet fell in love with the daughter of Mirza Mughal Beg, a proud scion of the Afghan rulers. Although Shah’s family happened to draw their lineage from the family of Prophet Muhammad, there was a difference in the social status of the families. The ruling family was aristocratic, while the Shahs came from a family of mystics. In 1713, robbers assassinated Mughal Beg and decamped with all his riches. Reduced to poverty, the Mirza family eventually agreed to give their daughter in marriage to Shah, who had by then gained fame as a poet…..

 

The 10 Best Pakistani Political/Social Parody Songs … Ever!
Nadeem F. Paracha

Aziz Mian was the wild man of Pakistani Quawwali. Long-haired, almost always sloshed on his favourite brand of whisky, and punctuating his Quawwalis with sudden spoken-word interludes that he would shout out as if he was having an argument with God and the conservative clergy. Though the Sabri Brothers too came from the same Sufi-music background as Aziz Mian, they were more subdued and harmonious in their approach towards their music.....

 

Dhaka: The Enduring City
Milia Ali

Beneath Dhaka's unattractive façade lies a compassionate soul. The city and its people have a great ability to accept and adapt. From a quaint town of the '70s it has transformed into a bustling city -- reinventing itself to accommodate the rapid changes. But, despite all its urbanisation Dhaka still retains touches of its rustic self… The other day I was shopping in Gulshan 2. A hawker sitting with his basket of Dhaka cheese offered me a big chunk. When I told him I had no cash left on me he said: “Aapa, please take it, you can pay me tomorrow....

 

Iran has already tried to block Western music and movies and social media. But they cannot block them successfully. These technological influences are even more powerful and more effective and corrosive than the invasion of Western fast food. No radar system and no Internet block and no diet can possibly protect Iran from the real secret weapons of the West. It just won’t work. Freedom cannot be blocked. Here’s to a year free of fear and filled with freedom.....

 

There Is No Single Islamic Culture
Mohamad Jebra

What most converts to Islam seem to miss is that Islam is a spiritual and religious system, it is not an alternative to one’s cultural and national identity. In fact, wherever you go in the world you will find a unique and harmonious merging of Islamic and local values. Sub-Saharan Africa has a unique Islamic culture, which greatly differs from Chinese Muslim culture, which, likewise, greatly varies from Balkan Islamic culture…..

The ‘Evil’ In Our Textbooks
Madiha Afzal

Our penchant for conspiracy theories also falls into place. We are taught that Muslims were victimised before Partition. The British conspired with the Hindus and the Congress to do so. One of the reasons given for “the fall of East Pakistan” is “international conspiracies”, with players as diverse as Russia, India and America conspiring against us. Little wonder, then, that we have an unhealthy sense of national paranoia….

 

The ‘Swinging Seventies’ In Pakistan: An Urban History
Nadeem F. Paracha

The shrine culture, pertaining to the devotional, recreational, and economic activity around the shrines of ancient Muslim saints, had been around in the subcontinent for almost a thousand years. The saints’ Islam was more accommodating than dogmatic, and a largely permissive culture of ecstatic devotional music, innovative rituals and indigenous intoxicants started to take shape around the shrines, mostly involving poor farmers, the dispossessed, (and later,) the urban lumpen proletariat....

 

My Name Is Pakistan and I’m Not an Arab
Nadeem F. Paracha

The point is, instead of assimilating the finer points of the diverse religious and ethnic cultures that our history is made of and synthesise them to form a more convincing and grounded nationalism and cultural identity, we have decided to reject our diverse and pluralistic past and instead adopt cultural dimensions of a people who, ironically, still consider non-Arabs like Pakistanis as second-class Muslims....

 
Religion and Rituals
Dilnawaz Qamar

Practices of rites and rituals without changing lives confine the religion to the precincts of a mosque, a church, a temple or holy place. Religion is practical that changes one inside out, not only a set of actions performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. It is our choice to become either an ignorant dummy or one seeking the will of God....

 

The Truth behind ‘Arabisation’ Of Pakistani Culture
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

‘Arabisation’ not only flies in the face of the more liberal and fluid cultural practices that have prevailed in this region since antiquity, but also more damningly is the primary impetus behind the militant Jihadi upsurge. I largely agree with this perspective, although such general hypotheses necessarily oversimplify social reality....

Timbuktu Libraries in Exile
Community – Seattle, Washington, United States

In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss....

 

The Islamisation of a Culture
Rana Allam

I do not want to imagine what kind of culture this minister will enforce in our cinemas, books, music, arts and cultural centres! These, along with their censorship committee, are under the leadership of the Islamist Alaa Abdel Aziz. But will they be able to censor Egyptian youth?...

 
Connecting Minds — Creating the Future
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Connecting Minds — Creating the Future
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

More than 1,200 years ago, while Europe was in its Dark Ages, the Muslim world was ruled by a dynasty of Islamic leaders who embraced free thought and creativity from all corners of the globe. Never before had history witnessed such cultural openness and symbiosis as during the reign of the Abbasid Caliphs. They built the world’s first university, named it Bayt Al Hikma (House of Wisdom) and filled its library with the finest cultural, scientific and literary creations known to mankind....

 

Muslim women do need liberating — not from Islam — from their indigenous cultural practices, often conflated with Islam. Muslims must not be reticent; they need to bear the responsibility for the liberation of Muslim women and ensure that they are not deprived of the rights granted to them by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) more than 1,400 years ago....

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NEW COMMENTS

  • Naseersaab, I have already refuted several times the claims you make in your article. Religions are not the sole source of moral precepts. Philosophers are not ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • There is duplicity in this fatwa. It has quoted Sheikh Mohammed Al Munjad among other 'authentic Ulema' who have in clear terms said that ...
    ( By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi )
  • Mr GRD: Do you refute that Allah the Almighty has sent His messengers (peace be upon them) (about one lac twenty four thousand in number) ...
    ( By Raihan Nezami )
  • Mr GRD: Where are these schools located? Is it your personal experience. Please be a little more explicit. '
    ( By Raihan Nezami )
  • These fatwa of Ahle Hadith Muftis are run of the mill. Why they don't refute the Saudi Salafi extremism inculcated in schools....
    ( By GRD )
  • Oh, Royalji I have understood! It means if you ask a pricking question , the ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • This is in response to Royalj's comment who does not appear to show a good understanding of Christianity. The story of Jesus (PBUH) alongwith the commentary ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, All the arguments that you have put forth so far, are covered in my article and I am reproducing here the part that answers ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • The women from all over the world should come forward to protest against womanphobia and Islamophobia as they are being deprived of their individual rights ...
    ( By Raihan Nezami )
  • @Manzurul Haque: “What is picking the brain”? (A true scholar will not feel shame to learn from anyone). When someone picks your brain with some ...
    ( By Royalj )
  • Naseersaab, Not all philosophers are deontologists. Moral behavior can exists in its own right because of its intrinsic soundness. Louise Antony, a professor of philosophy, puts ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • US isolationaism. Who is bothered about the views of US stooges and traitors to the human cause.'
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Land lust. The situation in India and Pakistan is very similar. I have campared this like A father/mother is standing outside with all power allowing to rape ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • Aayina: I don't appreciate involvement of religion in the matters of food habits, clothing, likes or dislikes as these things depend upon the availability, Necessity, ...
    ( By Abdullah )
  • It is a very timely decision to denounce the barbaric acts of ISIS type inhuman organisations who are totally anti-Islamic. This ....
    ( By Raihan Nezami )
  • I said eat as much you want it cab be Zero or everyday diet, did your paigamber said ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • You say: “Our belief that religions are divinely inspired cannot be adduced to argue ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • “The Muslim society will have to find ways by which women can become as independent as Hazrat Khadija (RA) without turning into a licentious and ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Aayina: You said, “Muslim Bhaiyo eat as much as you want”. It was a sarcastic statement, as it is not in your command to permit ...
    ( By Abdullah )
  • GM Sb, If philosophy which preoccupied itself with the "Principles of Morals and Legislation" and "The Principle of Supreme Morality" and with Ethics ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Naseersaab, Rapes committed by soldiers during war are war crimes. Prosecution of war crimes, except perhaps genocide, is notoriously poor. During the Iraq war, only about ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • The only unchanging law in the universe is the law of change. What is beyond universe is the only Constant. That is Allah - for ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Hand over the shrine to the mahila Samiti. As an orthodox Muslim I never visit such shrines.'
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • “Like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Iqbal, too, was a steadfast advocate of interpreting the scriptures according to the realities of the day.” The problem is with ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, We agree that enslaving POW and allowing sex with female slave restricted to one master is unacceptable in today's world as in any case ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • To Abdulla Doodh Mata.....And Meat Mata.... I do not personally care what people eat, meat or plant base food, I am oppose ...
    ( By Aayina )
  • Naseersaab, Philosophy has not yielded moral precepts because it is not the job of philosophy to yield moral precepts. Law makers and religious preachers deal ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • The Quran does not abolish slavery but we, as vicegerents of God on earth, can assert that Muslims cannot allow slavery to exist because of ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • But Muslims have not taken the vicegerent role seriously. They have shunned independent thinking and adaptation to contemporary ethos, preferring risk-free stagnation instead.
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Excellent point! Excellent article!" Iqbal did not see Islam and its holy scriptures as a ‘block universe’; instead he saw them as processes of ‘continual ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Good points! The ulema and muftis of the Al Hadees Jamiat themselves should adopt and propagate moderation and inclusiveness and spurn extremism when expounding on ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Good decision! Congratulations to Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan.'
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • While the scholars are debating the comma and full stop of the holy Quran, I would rather have my quality time with Prisha. So Prisha, ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • The root of conflict in Islam today is the book of Hadith. the book of hadith is men's words; men can deceive people. Holy Quran ...
    ( By somitempo )
  • where I differ has also been made clear in my comment: "If the other party you are at war with enslaves the Prisoners of War, then ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, For a more detailed treatment of the subject, read my article:...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Aayina: You have gone crazy and lost your reasoning and apprehension otherwise you must have known that it is the 85% Hindu community living in ...
    ( By Abdullah )
  • GM Sb, Yes, animals can also be trained. Cubs are taught how to hunt by their mother, zoo animals are trained etc. using the system ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Better late than never you are now beginning to understand that all Bugbears which CIA ....
    ( By Naseem Ahmed )
  • Naseersaab, I was not talking about genetic memory or instinctive behavior. I was talking about learned behavior. Morality is an outgrowth of the struggle for survival....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )